Quotes About Life

Mistakes - Jack Canfield

I recently heard a story about a famous research scientist
who had made several very important medical breakthroughs.
He was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who asked him
why he thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person.
What set him so far apart from others?

He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother
which occurred when he was about two years old.
He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator,
when he lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell,
spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor, a veritable sea of milk!

When his mother came into the kitchen,
instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture, or punishing him, she said,
"Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made!
I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk.
Well, the damage has already been done.
Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few minutes
before we clean it up?"

Indeed, he did. After a few minutes his mother said,
"You know, Robert, whenever you make a mess like this,
eventually you have to clean it up, and restore everything to its proper order.
So, how would you like to do that?
We could use a sponge, a towel or a mop. What do you prefer?"
He chose the sponge and together they cleaned up the spilled milk.

His mother then said,
"You know what we have here is a failed experiment
in how to effectively carry a big milk bottle with two tiny hands.
Let's go out in the back yard and fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover
a way to carry it without dropping it."
The little boy learned that
if he grasped the bottle at the top near the lip with both hands,
he could carry it without dropping it.
What a wonderful lesson!

This renowned scientist then remarked that
it was at that moment that he knew that
he didn't need to be afraid to make mistakes.
Instead he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new,
which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about.
They are simply that - just experiments to see what happens.
Even if the experiment doesn't work, we usually learn something valuable from it.

•- from Remember You Are Raising Children, Not Flowers! by Jack Canfield

updated: 11 years ago